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Origin Sets Up Stall For Crowd-Funded Games

EA understand indie games, they really do, that’s why they have their very own indie bundle. They also understand crowd-funding, or at least they understand that it’s becoming a force that they must reckon with, one way or another. This could go one of two ways. Either Kickstarter HQ is about to be breached by corporate assault drones, or all the profits from FIFA 13 will be pledged to the Kick it Forward scheme. Or perhaps there is a third way. Perhaps EA will waive its cut of sales on Origin for 90 days if the game in question was crowd-funded.

In case it wasn’t clear, it is the third option they’ve gone with. If a crowd-funded game is made available on Origin, EA won’t take any cut of the profits for the first 90 days after release. While the usual percentage of revenue claimed by EA isn’t known, the industry standard is around 30%, so the profits saved could amount to a considerable sum.

That’s especially true for Kickstarter projects that have been in development for a long time and have a readymade fanbase, who are likely to buy sooner rather than later. That said, it’s also important to remember that a lot of the sales from those following projects have already been made, given that making a pledge often involves paying for a copy in advance.

Edge notice that Brian Fargo has already taken EA up on the offer.

I have had a long relationship with EA and it is great to see them recognise and support the crowd-funded games model. Having Origin waive their distribution fees for 90 days for fan-funded games is a major economic bonus for small developers. We look forward to bringing Wasteland 2 to the Origin audience.

Most of the Kickstarter projects I’ve looked at promise to deliver a DRM-free version of the finished game to those using their pledge as a preorder and, perhaps stupidly, I hadn’t thought about how those copies would be distributed. Straight from the developer, I assumed, and then making ever more of an ass out of you and me, I further assumed that anybody buying post-release would also be able to buy straight from the developer as well. Hopefully this sort of thing won't change that.

Is this a case of EA reasoning that if it can’t be the publisher, it might as well try to be the distributor? An acknowledgement that these projects, many of which were pitched to and rejected by major publishers, are now worth changing the rules for?

It’s another step in Origin’s search for an identity other than ‘EA Marketplace’ and perhaps a sign that the idea of Tim Schafer sailing a yacht made out of money toward a private island made out of money has not gone unnoticed by those on the mainland who once had control of the ports.

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Adam Smith


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